France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre; other major urban areas include Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse, Lille, Bordeaux, and Nice .
France is the largest country in the European Union and the second largest in Europe. It has been one of the world's most powerful countries for many centuries. During the 17th and 18th centuries, France colonized much of North America. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, France built one of the largest colonial empires of the time.
La France est une république constitutionnelle unitaire ayant un régime semi-présidentiel. La devise de la République est depuis 1875 « Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité » et son drapeau est composé de trois bandes verticales, bleue, blanche et rouge. Son hymne national est La Marseillaise, chant patriotique hérité de la Révolution française.
France was one of the Allied Powers in World War II, but was conquered by Nazi Germany in 1940. The Third Republic was dismantled, and most of the country was controlled directly by Germany while the south was controlled until 1942 by the collaborationist Vichy government.
- Executive Branch
- Shadow Cabinet of France
- Legislative Branch
- Judicial Branch
- French Law
- Local Government
- Further Reading
A popular referendum approved the constitution of the French Fifth Republicin 1958, greatly strengthening the authority of the presidency and the executive with respect to Parliament. The constitution does not contain a bill of rights in itself, but its preamble mentions that France should follow the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of M...
France has a semi-presidential system of government, with both a President and a Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is responsible to the French Parliament. A presidential candidate is required to obtain a nationwide majority of non-blank votes at either the first or second round of balloting, which implies that the Presidentis somewhat supported b...
A Shadow Cabinet is sometimes formed by the opposition parties in the National Assembly, though this is uncommon.
The Parliament of France, making up the legislative branch, consists of two houses: the National Assembly and the Senate; the National Assembly is the pre-eminent body. Parliament meets for one nine-month session each year: under special circumstances the President can call an additional session. Although parliamentary powers have diminished from t...
French law provides for a separate judicial branch with an independent judiciary which does not answer to or is directly controlled by the other two branches of government. France has a civil lawlegal system, the basis of which is codified law; however, case law plays a significant role in the determination of the courts. The most distinctive featu...
In 1973 the position of médiateur de la République (the Republic's ombudsman) was created. The ombudsman is charged with solving, without the need to a recourse before the courts, the disagreements between citizens and the administrations and other entities charged with a mission of a public service; proposing reforms to the Government and the admi...
France uses a civil law system; that is, law arises primarily from written statutes; judges are not to make law, but merely to interpret it (though the amount of judge interpretation in certain areas makes it equivalent to case law). Many fundamental principles of French Law were laid in the Napoleonic Codes. Basic principles of the rule of law were laid in the Napoleonic Code: laws can only address the future and not the past (ex post facto laws are prohibited); to be applicable, laws must h...
Statutory law versus executive regulations
French law differentiates between legislative acts (loi), generally passed by the legislative branch, and regulations (règlement, instituted by décrets), issued by the Prime Minister. There also exist secondary regulation called arrêtés, issued by ministers, subordinates acting in their names, or local authorities; these may only be taken in areas of competency and within the scope delineated by primary legislation. There are also more and more regulations issued by independent agencies, espe...
Order of authority for sources of the law
When courts have to deal with incoherent texts, they apply a certain hierarchy: a text higher in the hierarchy will overrule a lower text. The general rule is that the Constitution is superior to laws which are superior to regulations. However, with the intervention of European law and international treaties, and the quasi-case lawof the administrative courts, the hierarchy may become somewhat unclear. The following hierarchy of norms should thus be taken with due caution: 1. French Constitut...
Traditionally, decision-making in France is highly centralized, with each of France's departments headed by a prefect appointed by the central government, in addition to the conseil général, a locally elected council. However, in 1982, the national government passed legislation to decentralizeauthority by giving a wide range of administrative and f...
Frédéric Monera, L'idée de République et la jurisprudence du Conseil constitutionnel – Paris: L.G.D.J., 2004 -
France is divided into eighteen administrative regions ( French: régions, singular région [ʁeʒjɔ̃] ), of which thirteen are located in metropolitan France (in Europe ), while the other five are overseas regions (not to be confused with the overseas collectivities, which have a semi-autonomous status). 
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